Moving to Iowa City

Pack your bags and rev up your moving vans; we're venturing into the heartland of America, specifically Iowa City, IA! Nestled in the vibrant heart of Iowa, this city neither sleeps nor snubs. A haven for literature buffs, a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, and a thriving hub for technology startups, Iowa City effortlessly mingles Midwestern charm with bustling city life. In this comprehensive relocation guide, we'll uncloak all the city's enchanting nooks and crannies, ensuring your transition is as smooth as the cool Iowa breeze. So sit back, read on, and get ready for your grand adventure in Iowa City!

Moving to Iowa City, IA landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Iowa City

1. Let's talk about the College Town Vibe

There's something electric about living in a college town and Iowa City, the home of the University of Iowa, embodies that energy in every avenue. Whether you're rocking gold and black at a packed football game, or just enjoying the intellectual stimulation in the air, this Hawkeye hub will keep you engaged and entertained. Business Insider did acknowledge it as one of the "20 best college towns in America," after all. And if you're beyond your college years, don't fret - Iowa City deftly balances its youthful vibrancy with a rich, mature culture that encompasses arts, cuisine, and community.

2. Literary Landscapes for days

Iowa City is a haven for bookworms. In 2008, the city was designated a UNESCO City of Literature - one of only 20 in the world! Home to the esteemed Iowa Writer's Workshop, the town is steeped in literary history that is palpable on every corner. Plus, there are countless readings, author signings, and literary festivals to attend all year round. Time to get your read on!

3. Foodie? You're in Luck!

The culinary scene in Iowa City is a delightful surprise. From ubiquitous comfort food to international gastronomy, the city's restaurants provide a multitude of choices. But the top must-try is the eclectic mix of food trucks. They're perfect for foodies on the go, or anyone looking for a taste adventure. Just head over to the pedestrian mall downtown to find yourself in food truck heaven.

4. Eclipse anyone?

Okay this one is pretty unique. Iowa City sits smack in the path of the 2024 solar eclipse. People from around the world will flock here to witness the rare celestial spectacle. It's so close that one could easily take a day trip to the point of greatest eclipse near Indianapolis. If you're in Iowa City then, make sure to mark your calendar and prep your solar glasses!

5. The Unexpected Pedestrian Mall Magnetism

This isn't your average pedestrian mall. The Iowa City Pedestrian Mall, also known as the 'Ped Mall', is a veritable hotspot of the city. Lined with unique shops, cafes, restaurants, and home to public art displays, it's filled with constant activity. Plus, there's always entertainment, from live music to festivals, all year round. Winter even sees an ice rink, turning the Ped Mall into a frolicking winter wonderland.

6. All about the Green & Gold - But it's Not What You Think!

When you hear "green and gold" in Iowa City, one doesn't typically think of agriculture. But the city is actually quite an eco-friendly place. Iowa City has made a significant commitment to sustainability with solar and wind projects, a renowned recycling program, and community gardens. So if you're an eco-warrior at heart, you'll fit right in.

In a nutshell, Iowa City is a diverse and vibrant gem in the Midwest you'll love discovering. It's a city of literature, with the heart of a college town, and the soul of a responsible, green-loving citizen. It offers a unique blend of college town energy, sophisticated culture, and eco-friendly consciousness. So pack your bags, sharpen your pencils, and prepare for the move - Iowa City awaits!

What to know before moving to Iowa City, IA image
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Pros and Cons of Living in Iowa City

Pros of Living in Iowa City

Excellent Education Institutions

Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, providing access to great education and numerous cultural activities. The presence of the university also makes the city a vibrant place filled with diverse perspectives and ideas.

Rich in Culture and Arts

Iowa City has a lively art scene with numerous galleries, theaters, and festivals, such as the annual Iowa City Jazz Festival. As a UNESCO City of Literature, it has a deep connection to the written word, hosting the annual Iowa City Book Festival and weekly readings or book signings.

Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

With several parks, trails, and the Iowa River, there are ample outdoor recreation opportunities in Iowa City. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, or boating, there's something for everyone who enjoys spending time outdoors.

Strong Sense of Community

Iowa City is known for having a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other. Regular events like the Summer of the Arts encourage socializing, fostering a strong sense of belonging among residents.

Low Crime Rates

Iowa City is often cited for its low crime rates, making it a safe place to live. Safety is a priority among community members, and this peace of mind contributes to an overall high quality of life.

Cons of Living in Iowa City

Cold Winters

Winter in Iowa City can be tough with temperatures often dropping below freezing. While this makes for a beautiful winter wonderland, it's not suitable for those who aren't a fan of the cold weather.

High Taxes

Iowa is known for its high income and property taxes, which can be a financial burden for some families and individuals. This might be something to consider when planning your budget for living in Iowa City.

Public Transportation Limitations

While Iowa City has a public transportation system, it might not cover all areas of the city adequately. If you don't own a car and depend on public transportation for commuting, you might find it challenging carrying out your day-to-day tasks.

Lack of Diversity

Although growing, Iowa City doesn't have the same level of ethnic and cultural diversity found in larger cities. This might be a drawback for those looking for a more multicultural experience.

Outdoors Not Accessible Year-round

While Iowa City has plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, these aren't accessible year-round due to the harsh winter weather. This can be a disadvantage for those who depend on outdoor activities all year round.

Modern day picture of Iowa City, IA highlighting pros and cons of living in Iowa City, IA

Is Iowa City a Good Place to Live?

Iowa City, IA is a great place to live because it's known for its high-quality education and thriving arts scene. The city offers an array of cultural events, exceptional healthcare facilities, and an active nightlife. Furthermore, it is often recognized for its safety, community spirit, and abundant recreational activities such as hiking, boating, and fishing.

What Is Iowa City Famous For?

Home to the University of Iowa

Credit goes to this well-known university for making Iowa City a lively, bustling town. As a Big Ten school, it ensures that there is always something going on, whether it's a football game, a lecture series, or an arts festival.

Literary Heritage

Named the UNESCO city of Literature, Iowa City holds great value for its literary heritage. It hosts the Iowa Writers' Workshop, a prestigious, graduate-level creative writing program, and the International Writing Program, drawing writers from around the globe.

Iowa Avenue Literary Walk

The Iowa Avenue Literary Walk is a unique celebration of the city's rich literary heritage. Sidewalk panels imprinted with quotations from 49 authors with ties to the state of Iowa provide a tour that is both an experience in art and literature.

Pedestrian Mall

This bustling open-air, pedestrian-only street in downtown Iowa City is swarming with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Strikingly picturesque, it offers a place to shop, dine, or simply enjoy the energetic atmosphere.

Capital building of Iowa City, IA in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

In 2023, Iowa City residents pay a property tax rate of 1.68%, one of higher rates compared to national averages, which by contrast, sits around 1.07%. However, compared to other states, Iowa's property tax ranks as the 14th highest in the U.S.

Sales Tax

Iowa City's sales tax rate as of 2023 is about 6%, lower than the U.S. average rate of roughly 7.12%. This positions Iowa as the 29th highest sales tax state in the nation.

Income Tax

As at 2023, Iowa City income tax ranges from 0.33% to 8.53% with an additional local surtax at a maximum of 1%, considerably higher when compared to the U.S. average of about 4.6%. This puts Iowa City at the top five when it comes to state income tax rates in the US.

Housing Market

Iowa City's housing market exhibits stability compared to other regions, offering an affordable option for buyers and renters. The median home price is about $225,000, below the national average. Rental prices for a 1-bedroom property hover around $850 per month, also lower than the U.S average. This market demonstrates steady growth and low volatility, making it appealing to prospective homeowners and investors. Despite lower prices, Iowa City boasts a vibrant cultural scene and highly-rated educational institutions, offering high living standards within budgetary reach.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Iowa City, IA is generally lower compared to other cities across the US. Key factors like housing, groceries, and transportation costs are significantly cheaper. While one might expect lower wages in a city with lower living costs, salaries in Iowa City are pretty competitive, further enhancing its affordability. However, it's worth noting that some expenses like healthcare are slightly higher than the national average. Overall, Iowa City offers a balanced quality of life at a reasonable cost making it an attractive choice for many.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Iowa City, IA experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Average high temperatures during summer reach the mid-80s Fahrenheit, while winter temperatures hover around the mid-30s but can decrease significantly. Precipitation is fairly distributed throughout the year, with spring and summer typically seeing more rain, contributing to the city's lush greenery. Severe weather events such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, and blizzards occasionally occur, particularly during spring and summer. While winters can be harsh, they create a picturesque, frosty landscape transforming Iowa City into a winter wonderland. Its location in the heartland of the United States means it's less exposed to natural disasters than coastal areas, though the potential for flooding from the Iowa River is a reminder of nature's unpredictability.

Typical weather in Iowa City, IA

Economy & Job Market

* Education and Healthcare Services

* Retail Trade

* Manufacturing

* Finance, Insurance and Real Estate

* Arts, Entertainment and Food Services

Iowa City, IA, famously known as the home of the Hawkeyes, has a diverse economy that has evolved quite phenomenally over the years. Historically, the city's economy centered around agriculture. Though agriculture still plays a role, the city's economy now thrives on the Education and Healthcare services, thanks to the presence of the University of Iowa and its associated healthcare institutions. But that's not all folks, Retail trade and manufacturing have equally etched out prominent places in the city's economy as well and if show biz or delectable cuisine is your thing, a glorious blend of arts, entertainment and food services industry is waiting to be explored.

For all our saga seekers planning a move to Iowa City, IA, the town has a pretty promising job market. The city prides in its lower than national average unemployment rate promising opportunities. The Education and Healthcare services sector is a fertile ground if you're seeking employment given the University of Iowa and numerous healthcare providers are often on the lookout for talent. If you're a retail snorkeler or a manufacturing maven, there are plenty of opportunities in these fields as well. So, pack your bags and bring along your job-seeking spirit, the city of literature, Iowa City, is ready to welcome you with a bounty of employment possibilities!

Traffic and Transportation

Are you ready for a delightful jaunt through Iowa City's transportation system? Buckle up, because we're dashing through commute times and public transport options faster than a Hawkeye touchdown! Average commute times here are a breezy 16.7 minutes, so you've got plenty of time to enjoy those cornfield sunrises! And for the eco-conscious among us, there's no need for a private horse and buggy; our local bus service, Iowa City Transit, gallantly gallops through city streets all week long. But if you're needing to rocket further afield, the Eastern Iowa Airport is just a 25 minute drive away. Once you've got your wings, you can fly to destinations across the U.S.! So whether you're staying local or spreading your wings, getting around in Iowa City is easier than spreading mulberry jam on a hot biscuit!

What is the traffic like in Iowa City, IA?

Best Neighborhoods in Iowa City

1. Northside

First stop: Northside, which is located within a stone's throw from downtown Iowa City. The district is home to diverse population, ranging from families to students. This quaint, charming place offers a welcoming harmony of historic homes and modern condos. The neighborhood is highly walkable with major amenities like grocery shops, bookstores, and coffee shops only a block or two away. Northside is also the unofficial "Literary District of Iowa City", with history seeping through every corner, complimented by public art installations and thriving literary venues like Prairie Lights bookstore.

2. Goose Town

Goose Town, located northeast of downtown, is an eclectic blend of old and new, with a history dating back to the 19th century. As the story goes, the neighborhood was populated by Bohemian immigrants who kept geese in their yards. Today, Goose Town still resonates with a sense of historic charm, combined with a friendly, tight-knit community vibe. Housing ranges from quaint, historic homes to modern apartments. You'll love this neighborhood if you want a quiet, residential area that's within walking distance to downtown, parks, and local eateries.

3. Longfellow

Longfellow, nestled between downtown and the eastern edge of the city, is a serene neighborhood characterized by tree-lined streets and historic bungalows. Great for families, Longfellow boasts an impressive array of amenities including public parks, a strong school district, and locally-owned businesses. Discover hidden gems such as John's Grocery, an iconic local market, and culturally diverse restaurants. Longfellow's engaging community hosts neighborhood-wide events, perfect for meeting your new neighbors!

4. Manville Heights

At the west end of town lies Manville Heights, an upscale neighborhood known for its sweeping panoramic views of the Iowa River. Along its winding roads, you'll find a mix of grand, historic residences and more modest, traditional-style homes. Manville Heights is conveniently located; downtown is a short bus or bike ride away. What's more, the neighborhood is close to the University of Iowa's campus, the Finkbine Golf Course, and City Park's recreational offerings

5. The Peninsula

Our final stop is the Peninsula, one of Iowa City's newest neighborhoods. This planned community is defined by its New Urbanism design, where residential homes, townhouses, and apartments share space with shops, parks, and amenities, all within walking distance. The architecture is contemporary, with hints of classical influence. Ideal for families and young professionals alike, the Peninsula boasts a vibrant neighborhood playground, Dutch-style windmill, and ice-skating rink. Plus, you'll love the convenient access to the Iowa River Trail for walking, biking, or jogging.

Each neighborhood in Iowa City is unique, offering its own blend of history, culture, and community amenities. Whether you're searching for the perfect historic home, seeking the quiet tranquility of tree-lined streets, or looking for a modern, urban vibe, you're sure to find an incredible place to call home in one of these top five neighborhoods. By including both well-established and up-and-coming neighborhoods, we hope to provide a comprehensive guide for your move to our beloved town in Iowa.

Best neighborhoods in Iowa City, IA image

Things to Do

Welcome to the charming and vibrant city of Iowa City, IA. This city, known for its rich history, diverse art scene, and beautiful natural settings, offers an array of activities. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a literature buff, or a food lover, Iowa City will undoubtedly provide you an experience to remember. So, pack your bags and prepare yourself to delve into seven exciting activities that you should not miss when you're in the lovely city of Iowa City, IA.

1. Immerse in the Literary Culture at Iowa Avenue Literary Walk

Known as a UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City offers an unforgettable journey through its Literary Walk on Iowa Avenue. Here, you can follow the footsteps of 49 authors who have some sort of connection with Iowa, either born, educated, or lived in the state. Bronze panels embedded in the sidewalk present quotes from authors, making every stroll a delightful literary saunter.

2. Enjoy the Serenity of Hickory Hill Park

Hickory Hill Park is a hidden gem of Iowa City. Spread across nearly 200 acres, this park offers lovely walking trails, picnic areas, and peaceful surroundings. You can enjoy bird-watching, explore diverse flora and fauna, or just relax with a good book amidst this slice of nature.

3. Indulge in Farm-to-Table Dining at Pullman Bar & Diner

For food lovers, a visit to Pullman Bar & Diner is a must. Known for its scrumptious farm-to-table menu, you can savor fresh and locally sourced food here. Famous for its innovative twists on classic American cuisine, Pullman provides a gastronomic experience like no other in Iowa City.

4. Experience Literature in a New Way at Prairie Lights

Bookworms will adore Prairie Lights, an independent bookstore that's a staple of Iowa City since 1978. It features three floors of books, a cafe, and even a venue for readings and discussions by authors from around the world. Having a cup of coffee amidst the smell of new books - it doesn't get any better than this!

5. Have a Night Out at the Mill

The Mill is a music venue and restaurant boasting a homey, laid-back atmosphere. Apart from offering delectable food, the Mill also has a regular rotation of concerts and poetry readings. This unique mashup of food, music, and culture, makes it an enriching night-out attraction.

6. Revel in the beauty of the Devonian Fossil Gorge

Transport yourself back in time at the Devonian Fossil Gorge, a geological marvel in Iowa City. After the Cedar River overflowed in 1993 and 2008, layers of millions-year-old fossils were uncovered. You can see fossil remnants of prehistoric sea life all over the floor of the gorge - a delightful find for nature and history enthusiasts alike!

7. Be awe-struck by the 'Black Angel'

Though slightly grim, 'The Black Angel,' a bronze statue in the Oakland Cemetery, has become a sort of local legend and draws attention due to its ominous appearance and associated folklore. Some say that touching the statue brings misfortune! You might want to keep your hands to yourself when visiting this unique attraction.

In conclusion, Iowa City is where traditions meld with modernity, offering a bag full of experiences, from the charm of literature to the allure of nature, every corner of the city sings a unique song. So, for those moving to the City, or just visiting - Iowa City welcomes you with open arms and a promise of memorable moments.

Things to do in Iowa City, IA?

Find Movers for Your Iowa City Relocation

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